"a body vanishes from the surface/ its remains seep into the stage-screen/
diatomic actors flicker in the sky-light/ a chimeric dance across thresholds
The ghosts of words and borders continue to haunt artists of colour in global contemporary art stages. What does it mean to inhabit that stage with a script and process of one’s own making and the spectrality of one’s selves? This question not to merely extend the semiotics of the title, but to materialise and visualise what is often unuttered, unspoken, and unthought but deeply felt by many who inhabit these multiple non-/bodies. Going from the auteurist (situated within the artist as self and anthropocentric) to the planetary (situated alongside non-human bodies and more-than-human technologies), the tethers between Sandeep Mukherjee’s and Rohini Devasher’s praxes, respectively, create a spectral spectrum of responses in their makings.
Not simply a return to the ‘spectral turn’ of the 1990s-2000s academic sphere and Derridean deconstruction, Spectral Theatre also gestures to the anxieties and joys in the failures of performing certain materialisations and politics of assumed corporealities that in turn render ghosts of us who do not. And these seemingly spectral existences must be part of the larger discursive realms where geopolitics, science, art, and critical discourse commune. We inhabit the spectral in teleological modes. This text is not about why or how ghosts exist, but rather what can spectrality reveal; an invitation to dwell within the spectres of our present(s) and present selves, both speculative and lived. Hauntings are not necessarily nefarious or burdensome, but are propulsions to consider the unseen and incomprehensible. We exist within imminent threats of extinction, in individual and collective reckonings, be they through the ceaseless breakdown of socio-political and capitalist systems that are snowballing the climate apocalypse, the difficulty of being both human and non-human bodies in a differentiated ways, or the slow toxicities of living in an inequitably dying world. Spectral Theatre hovers among these liminalities of human and non-human mortality as well as the joys of encounter in phantasmic gaps that acknowledge and live in and despite these knowledges."
-Excerpt from Spectral Theatre by Ritika Biswas